by Reagan Jackson
The 19th Annual Arts in Nature Festival hosted by the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (DNDA) August 25 and 26 at Camp Long will have something for everyone.
This year’s Festival celebrates the convergence of art, nature, and community, featuring music by Naomi Wachira, De Cajon, Gamelan Pacifica, and Reverend Pat Wright’s Total Experience Gospel Choir. There will be poetic readings and workshops by Anastacia Renee, J Mace III, and Jordan Chaney as well as visual installations by Vaughn Bell, Sarah Kavage & Aaron Haba, to name a few. Join Angelina Villalobos and Roache the Muralist to witness the live creation of a mural.
Nature Consortium founder Nancy Whitlock started the Arts in Nature Festival. The Consortium is a community-based organization with a mission of connecting people, arts, and nature. Two years ago when Nature Consortium merged with the DNDA, Nafasi Ferrell and Yeggy Michael took over organizing the festival.
“We as an organization didn’t want to see it go away,” Ferrell said. “Especially because the community loved this festival so much. It was a lot of work of course, but getting to talk to the artists and hear all their stories, it definitely made it a journey well traveled over the past years that I have worked on it. “
One of their goals was to make the Festival inclusive and representative of the diverse communities living in the Delridge neighborhood.
“During the past two years, Yeggy, our artistic director, did an amazing job of really trying to showcase different artists of color in the Festival making it more than 50% artists of color to really make a balanced festival to represent an equal balance of folks in the community and just other artist of color,” said Ferrell.
This has helped make it feel like art and nature are for everyone.
“And that was something that participants especially of the past few years have appreciated,” Ferrell explained. “People were saying, ‘Oh it really feels representative of who we are in this area,’ and they said they hadn’t experienced that always in the past.”
This year, Ferrell and Michael passed the festival on to new leadership, but the commitment to inclusion and showcasing artists of color remains steadfast. Ferrell says she is happy to pass the baton and is excited for all the art to come.
“We definitely have a lot of new artists here, a lot that I don’t know of, so I’m excited to see what different pieces of artwork they bring,” said Ferrell. “There’s going to be a lot of physical artwork this year rather than music, so I’m definitely interested to see new artists and what their talents are and what they’re going to showcase for the community as it relates to art and nature.”
Seattle Civic Poet Anastacia Renee will be attending the Festival for the first time.
“I am going to do a poetry and body movement class outside, and I’m hoping to draw on the environmental theme and also throw in some poetic devices while people are outside. And it’s a class for both emerging and seasoned writers of all ages,” Renee said. “My goal is that, because people will be outside, they might be more willing to break writing and internal and emotional boundaries.”
Renee described the ways in which writers can feel more inhibited working inside.
“I know it might sound weird,” she said “but I think walls provide extra boundaries and classroom settings a whole other set of boundaries. Sometimes people think of classrooms and their youth and maybe how they weren’t good at school and they compare themselves to other writers. I just feel like when writing is merged with the outdoors, the trees, sun, the rain, air it opens people up.”
When asked what she’s most excited about Renee said: “I’m excited because in my limited experience I don’t see much of an intentional blend of art and nature unless it’s sort of like, ‘Oh we’re inside a building let’s go for a walk.’ I don’t really see many orgs intentionally saying we are going to have an art and environmental festival and we’re going to mess it together and do all programming that speaks to both.”
Featured Photo: Courtesy Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association.